They’ve been taking aim at Don Larson for nearly 59 years.
On Friday night, Ben Wellman did what countless running backs could not. The Tri-Center senior dropped Larson to No. 2 on Iowa’s all-time single-game rushing list for 11-man football.
Wellman carried 43 times for a state-record 484 yards in Tri-Center’s 38-27 Class 1-A, District 8 loss to Panorama. That broke the record held by Alden’s Larson for nearly six decades, when he ran for 455 against Renwick on Oct. 29, 1954.
One thing kept Wellman, who scored three touchdowns, from celebrating the feat like he wanted. Tri-Center dropped to 2-6 with the loss and was eliminated from playoff contention.
“It’s a great honor to break a record like that, that’s been held for so long,” he said. “But we play games to get the ‘W.’ It just stinks we couldn’t get it.”
Some rushing records are broken by speed demons who are able to make a man miss and then outrace everyone. Not the case with the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Wellman. While he’s improved his speed through intense conditioning workouts, he would prefer to run through you. That was the case on a 63-yard scoring rampage just before the half, Tri-Center coach John Tiarks said.
“Just the carnage he left,” Tiarks said. “There were five of those kids from Panorama just laying in a heap. And they were five or six yards apart from each other.”
Tri-Center faculty member Max Kozeal, who drove the bus to the game, informed Wellman that he was the new record holder just before Wellman got into the shower.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Wellman said.
Tiarks praised strong-side guard Brady Flemming (5-11, 210), tackle Collin Alfers (6-3, 205) and tight end Ty Jarrett (5-10, 195) for doing outstanding work up front.
“It sounds odd when you’ve won two football games, but if I could keep those three guys for the next 25 years I’m coaching, I’d take them,” Tiarks said.
The other linemen were center Adam McDermott, guard Brandon Pacl and tackle Tyler Cox.
Wellman, who also made a team-high 13 tackles from his linebacker spot, is still weighing his college options.
Wellman said that if he could trade his new record for a postseason berth, he’d take it in a heartbeat.
“I’d rather have a trip to the playoffs for sure,” he said.